Getting the Grey Matter 2017 Ready

As the New Year rolls in has anything really changed?  Arguably just a number, but yet something feels fundamentally different. For me personally moving into the second year of setting up and running my own business it has been a time for reflection. After a Christmas break of some excess it’s time to get my head down and focus.

Starting your own business is about hard work, self discipline and perseverance; it’s a challenge that is led from within. It  has required constant learning and personal development, taking myself out of my comfort zone. So facing that challenge and given the time of year it has led me to spend some time reflecting on the mindset I will require to achieve a successful outcome.

What the experts say…

Carol Dweck is one of the worlds leading researchers into motivation and a Professor of Psychology and Stanford University. She talks about a belief in our ability, rather than ability itself as having the most influence over our potential to perform. She argues that it was not ability itself that predicts performance, resilience and perseverance. Rather it is the individual’s belief about the nature of ability (referred to as ‘self theory of intelligence’, also known as ‘mindset’) and what can be achieved by that belief.

Many people that I talk to have beliefs that do not support them and affect their confidence. They often refer to these as their internal voice and for some people that can be limiting. It says ‘you are not good enough’, ‘it’s too tough’, ‘you don’t have what it takes’. Some people have ‘imposter syndrome’ – believing that they made it to where they are by fluke or they are really good at ‘blagging’ and one day they will be found out!

These beliefs limit our resilience and confidence and in turn effect our approach and performance. There can be a number of contributing factors that enable an unhelpful mindset to develop and once it starts, these factors support it to keep on growing. I have talked before about perspective and how our lens helps inform and reinforce our beliefs and how we come to hold them.

It is key to believe that however we deal with life’s challenges and set backs is our choice and this has a strong correlation with performance and success. As people we form patterns in our lives which we follow unconsciously.  Dweck defined two mindsets, individuals with a ‘growth mindset’ believe that they can develop their intelligence, while individuals with a ‘fixed mindset’ believe that their intelligence is innate (i.e. “I was born this way/this is what I am”).


How to influence mindset

When you start with a plan, that really challenges and stretches you, it is a journey and success may not be instant. Each action you take is an opportunity for learning. Each event is an opportunity to evaluate strategies and identify the education and growth potential. Initially the focus should be on the process being followed rather than how performance is perceived with the motivation coming from a desire to learn and improve.

Dweck talks about the power of yet. So when: ‘I can’t’; ‘It doesn’t’; ‘I don’t know’; ‘I don’t understand’ – are followed by yet; it is a game changer. Once you take this mindset you have an opportunity to develop and grow and become better. As a leader when you work with a growth mindset and build it into your mantra, it becomes part of the culture of your team; its power is amplified, as are the potential opportunities it constructs.

Try asking powerful growth questions, such as:

What steps did you take that were most useful?

What were some of the strategies you could have also considered?

How did you overcome the challenges you faced?

What did you learn about our business/customers today?

What could you try that would help you next time?

Managing mindset enables changes in thinking; it builds confidence, grows opportunity and enables creativity. There is much talk about learning organisations and learning cultures and a fundamental building block to enable these to be successful is having the right mindset.

Mindset in leadership

A mindset that opens up space and communication, that creates an open dialogue where the point is not about wining an argument but about building something better enables you and your teams to perform.  It requires creativity and that must be enabled by trust in the leadership and a safe environment. When this happens strategies can be developed and tried and ideas shared, a focus on building, learning and growth through improved communication and awareness, better enabling businesses in VUCA times.

Mindset changes can be situational due to environment, people or events. We all have a tendency to hold a certain mindset and its important to understand ours . When our mindset and focus is negative our options and view point changes in a way that limits opportunity.  Mindset is self-reinforcing and requires cognitive change.

A useful graphic is called the ‘Path of Possibility’ it provides awareness to enable the recognition of our current path pattern. Once we understand our path we either reinforce our position or make positive choices to open up opportunity and increase productivity.


Source: The Strength Partnership

For leaders it is key to remember the contagious nature of emotion. Leadership drives the culture and approach to business. Regardless of work around values and developing a forward thinking vision good leadership is well served with a positive growth mindset for self and also for how you lead others. Consider your triggers in and around tasks, people and situations that impact you and what you can do about these. Reflecting on your strengths consider strategies for building opportunities positively from a platform that helps to create new opportunities.

As the challenges and uncertainty ahead for 2017 stretch us, the presence of resilience and drive of a strong mindset supported by strengths will help us all deliver.

Contact us if you would like discuss how Vantage People could help you or your business.

Jemma Barton, Director & Coach


T: +44 7717 131 434

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